Marinated Grilled Chicken with Cucumber-Watermelon Salsa uses an easy chicken and steak marinade that you’ll use all summer long. Serve with efreshing Cucumber-Watermelon Salsa on top!
Ben’s and my weekly dinner menus are ridiculously predictable, featuring Chipotle burrito bowls a minimum of one night a week (what DO they put in that guac to make it taste so good?!) and what we fondly refer to as “boring chicken” another one, or let’s be real, two nights a week.
Why is it called “boring chicken”? Because dinner consists of simply seasoned chicken breasts sauteed in olive oil then served with some sort of roasted vegetable and wild rice cooked in chicken broth.
As boring as it sounds though, both Ben and I love it. The meal is quick to prepare and like I always say, it’s the simple things in life. Like really good vanilla ice cream. Or noodles and butter. Or eating 37 Hershey Kisses in a row. Know what I mean?
That being said, spring and summer are always great times to get risque with boring old chicken by marinating it and throwing it on the grill. Luckily I’ve got the perfect grilled chicken marinade you’ll want to use all season long.
This marinade is made completely from ingredients I can almost 100% guarantee you already have in your cupboards – a little soy sauce, oil, honey, red chili pepper flakes, garlic, salt, and pepper combine to make a super juicy grilled chicken that has all the right flavors. A little salty, a little heat, and just a teeeeny bit of sweet. It’s just fantastic.
The marinade recipe was actually sent to me years ago by a faithful IGE reader named Stacy (Stacy, are you still reading?!) I used to use it quite a bit for steaks, which I HIGHLY recommend, but had never used it on chicken until just recently. I’m here to tell you it is absolutely wonderful, and does the trick in as little as 30 minutes.
As I mentioned last Friday, watermelon is tres chic in the culinary world right now so I jumped on the bandwagon and made a cooling, ultra-refreshing Cucumber-Watermelon Salsa to spoon on top of my grilled chicken. How gorgeous are these colors?! Very spa-tasting, too. Close your eyes…
Start by making the marinade which is made up of fridge and pantry staples. Huzzah! Like I said, this marinade started out as a steak marinade but obviously works fabulously for chicken. Try it with salmon too!
To large bowl add 1/4 cup soy sauce or gluten-free tamari, 2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil (or other high-heat oil), 1 Tablespoon honey, 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (or more or less,) and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger then whisk to combine.
Pour the marinade into a Ziplock bag placed inside another large bowl before adding 1lb meat – in this case chicken breasts – then marinate for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. I don’t like keeping chicken in marinades that contain soy sauce for longer than 2 hours because the salt starts to make the chicken rubbery. If you’re using this marinade for steak though, you can let it sit for 2-6 hours before grilling.
Tip: before adding the chicken breasts to the marinade, make sure you’ve pounded them to the same thickness to ensure they’ll cook evenly on the grill. There’s nothing worse than having one end of a chicken breast grilled to perfection while the other end resembles charcoal!
Place the chicken on a cutting board then cover with Glad Press’n’ Seal or saran wrap then whack it with a rolling pin or meat mallet until the chicken is the same thickness.
I like to go a step further and score my chicken breasts with a sharp knife on one side to make sure the marinade really permeates the meat.
While the chicken is marinating, whip up an easy and oh-so refreshing Cucumber-Watermelon Salsa. This stuff is the epitome of summer! Simply combine chopped watermelon and cucumber with fresh cilantro, jalapeno, green onion, salt, pepper, and lime juice in a bowl then stir. Rocket science, it is not. :)
When it’s time to eat, pop the chicken on pre-heated grates over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes a side, or until no longer pink in the center. Be sure to let the chicken rest for 5 minutes off the grill before serving. Just like steak, you’ll lose a ton of yummy juices if you carve into it right away.
After the resting period is up, plate the chicken then top with a big scoop of Cucumber-Watermelon salsa and dig in!
Marinated Grilled Chicken with Cucumber-Watermelon Salsa
For the marinade (makes enough for 1lb of meat):
1/4 cup soy sauce or gluten-free Tamari
2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil (or other high-heat oil)
1 Tablespoon honey
4 crushed garlic cloves, peeled (not chopped garlic – it will burn on the grill!)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more or less)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
For the Watermelon-Cucumber Salsa:
1-1/2 cups chopped watermelon
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 jalapeno, minced
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 green onion, chopped
juice of 1 lime
drizzle of honey
salt & pepper
- Whisk marinade ingredients together in a bowl then transfer to a plastic Ziplock bag set inside another large bowl.
- Pound chicken to an even thickness then score diagonally across the top and place inside bag with marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Grill chicken breasts over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes a side, or until no longer pink in the center. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- For the Watermelon-Cucumber Salsa: combine ingredients in a bowl then spoon over grilled chicken.
- NOTE: this marinade is also awesome for steak – marinate for 2-6 hours in the fridge before grilling.
Look no further for a chicken and steak marinade to use all summer long. This mix is so easy to toss together and gives the chicken incredible flavor. That crunch and freshness from the Cucumber-Watermolon Salsa is also a must-try!
I served my marinated grilled chicken with sweet potato fries (Ore-Ida frozen are my favorite,) but any grilled veggie would be awesome to go with – especially my easy grilled potato packets. Enjoy!